Sleep is essential. Without a good night’s rest, the body can’t work at its full capacity. Reaction time is slower, physical signs start to present themselves, and moodiness may set in. Forget about being “on the ball” or fully involved in conversations and daily to-dos. Sleep deprivation is a serious thing, and it is not something you can “make up” by snoozing ‘till noon on Saturdays and Sundays.
One major reason people suffer from a poor night’s sleep is due to a condition known as sleep apnea. You may have seen commercials about it or maybe you believe it is something you are dealing with personally. Perhaps your partner is afflicted, and they are not only sleeping insufficiently, but they are keeping you wide awake night after night too. Sleep apnea is invasive, annoying, and potentially dangerous. Worst of all, it prevents a decent night’s sleep.
If you think you have sleep apnea or someone you love is dealing with this bothersome bedtime issue, here is what you need to know about the condition and what you can do. Here at Cornerstone Dental Arts, we are ready to solve the problem so you can hit the sack stress-free.
What is sleep apnea?
What happens during an episode of sleep apnea is that the person stops breathing temporarily for brief periods of time throughout the night, sometimes up to dozens of times per hour! Believe it or not, they may not even realize it is happening. Most commonly, people have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The soft tissues in the mouth and throat relax, causing a collapse into the airway, preventing normal breathing. The body tries to “revive” itself by waking up to gasp for air. Obviously, this cycle is disturbing and disruptive to the sufferer as they wake up in a panic periodically all night long. It is scary, stressful, and makes them sleep deprived since they never achieve the important REM sleep, that deep sleep we all need to be well-rested and relaxed. There’s never a chance to experience REM because they’re waking up too frequently for it to set in.
Aside from feeling groggy, achy, or moody, what is really so dangerous about not getting enough sleep?
There is more to missing sleep than meets the eye. Aside from being constantly tired and cranky, there are other more harmful effects of sleepless nights including high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Weight gain is also common and losing it is more difficult.
Can my sleep apnea be stopped?
There are proven ways to treat sleep apnea. One common treatment is by way of CPAP – continuous positive airway pressure machine. All night long, air is forced down the sufferer’s throat to keep the airway open and unblocked. While CPAP can be extremely effective, being hooked up to a machine all night is not always comfortable. Thankfully, there is another way to achieve a similar outcome. At Cornerstone Dental Arts, we believe in the benefits of oral appliance therapy. A mouthguard can be custom-designed for the patient which purposefully holds the tongue in place as the jaw is shifted forward ever so slightly. It is comfortable to wear all night long and prevents the process of sleep apnea from interrupting sleep. Surgery is also a solution for those who need more than a mouthguard to manage this chronic condition.
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
Some people just can’t sleep well, but they do not know quite why they have this ongoing problem. If you have a hunch that sleep apnea is what is preventing you from sleeping normally night after night, you can get a better idea if it is indeed the cause by taking the Epworth Sleepiness Scale Quiz. It is a quick assessment that can give you more insight into your sleep troubles. You’ll tabulate your scores after completing a series of questions related to your ability to fall asleep in certain situations.
Do you want to know more about sleep apnea and how it can be treated by the Cornerstone Dental Arts team? We are always here to help by answering any questions you may have about sleep apnea or your other dental-related concerns. Please give us a call at 865-531-7117, and we can set up a consultation.
Before you know it, your sleep will be sounder and your overall health will be improved. There’s no reason you should be sleep deprived when a simple mouthguard may be all you need to change the way you sleep, once and for all. We will figure out if this solution is right for you, and if so, we’ll have one designed and delivered. Dreams do come true…when you can actually sleep soundly!